Australian Biography - Ray Whitrod

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[Music]

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Ray

SUPER:
Ray Whitrod
Born 1915, Adelaide
Policeman

DISSOLVE TO:

Ray sync: it seemed to me important that I send a signal to the people of Queensland that something very seriously was going wrong with the Queensland police force and with their premier. It was important that this be got through. Now Queenslanders are a group, they live in a wonderful state, they're apathetic about political matters. I had to stir them up somehow. It seemed to me the only way I could do it was making a personal sacrifice.

[Music]

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Photo: Ray's parents

Ray v/o: my father was a confectioner by trade and I was born during the war and people didn't spend much money on

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Photo: Ray's father

confectionary during the war so that he was on half time which meant that he got half wages

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Ray

Ray sync: so my mother would also take in washing or go out and clean houses, and that sort of supplemented our income. But we were very poor. We had a reasonable meal at weekends. We always had roast lamb at weekends.

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Photo: Young Ray

Ray v/o: but I remember very much always leaving the table feeling hungry.

Interviewer v/o: What did your parents hope for your future?

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Ray

Ray sync: Well, I don't think my mother ever directly expressed any sort of wish to me. I know she was disappointed I didn't do my homework as much as I should, because my father had only had three or four years schooling and she had only had two years schooling so their conception of what was required to be an educated

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Photo: Ray's parents

Ray v/o: person was very limited. But my mother was very good in, in sort of making sure that whatever resources the family had, the children got first go at them.

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Young Ray playing cricket.

Interviewer v/o: What do you remember most from school?

Ray v/o: I think one thing was my poverty.

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Ray

Ray sync: I always felt uncomfortable in the class because my, my clothes were the cast-offs of an uncle who'd died and they didn't fit me and I was gawky, I was growing and, and I was in, in my intermediate and leaving years, in a mixed class with girls and boys and on the whole they wore school blazers and school caps and

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Archival: Ray's school days

Ray v/o: I was in ill-fitting clothes and

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Archival: Ray's school days

didn't have any money for lunch and, and didn't do my homework,

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Archival: Ray's school days

so the only thing from school that I really got was a feeling of

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Photo: Ray on beach

ability as an, an athlete.

Interviewer v/o: But despite that you matriculated in 1932 at the height of the depression. Did you manage to get a job?

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Photo: Ray in uniform

Ray v/o: Yes. I got one temporarily as an office boy and I wasn't very good at it. So I got the boot and,

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Ray

Ray sync: I went to, I went, carrying my swag and hoping to just get a menial job picking apricots and picking grapes. I couldn't get a job doing that and I was on the dole. The only money I had was sixpence I left home with some months earlier .

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Photo: Ray with pipe

Ray v/o: I really touched rock bottom that year after matriculation.

Interviewer v/o: And how did that end? Did you get work in the end?

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Ray

Ray sync: [laughs] oh well, in-between times I'd fallen in love with a girl and

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Photo: Group of girls including Mavis

Ray v/o: it was a school teacher and - She never talked down to me. First school teacher I'd met that didn't talk down to me and she listened to some of my stupid ideas and, and didn't throw cold water on them and so we got on famously, and

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Ray

Ray sync: I don't think she ever saw me as a sort of a suitor at that time because I was seven years younger and so we kept company.

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Photo: Ray and Mavis rowing boat

Ray v/o: Her brother and I had hiked down to victor harbour and spent some days down there and she and her friend had come down there so we got involved down there and, when we got back home we would go to a few scout dances and so forth but

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Ray

Ray sync: was never regarded as a sort of suitor by the in-laws or by Mavis. I was just Bryce's friend, and so it was quite some time before they saw that I had serious intentions about marrying her.

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Phot: Young Mavis

Ray v/o: And then, my in-laws, saw a notice in the advertiser that the S.A. police were advertising for young people with good education to become

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Photo: Ray on horse

police cadets. So I joined the police force as a cadet. And

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Photo: Ray on horse

when I was 21 I got attached to the CIB. I was the, that was a sort

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Photo: Ray with CIB force

of elite force. But I went straight in, I never did any beat duty or traffic duty or motorcycle duty. I and another mate were the first two to form this new sort of career structure.

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Photo: Ray, Mavis and wedding cake

Interviewer v/o: Once you were established in the police force you married Mavis and bought a house. When was your first child born?

Ray v/o: Born in 1939, just before the war and

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Photo: Mavis with baby

he used to toddle around the place and we were very happy and then the war broke out and I wasn't very concerned the early part of the war 1939,

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Photo: Mavis with baby

and it wasn't until June 1940 when Dunkirk came along and it

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Ray

Ray sync: seemed to me that, you know, all of us who felt we ought to support our, our British families back home and so forth, ought to go along and enlist. So I joined the RAAF

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Photo: Ray in RAAF

Ray v/o: reserve in June '40, Dunkirk, but I wasn't called up until February the next year, and so in the meantime we thought we ought to have another child just in case something happened to me and so Ian was born in 1941 when I was in

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Photo: Ray's sons

training at Mount Gambier.

Interviewer v/o: You were trained as a navigator. Where were you sent?

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Photo: Ray in uniform

Ray v/o: We went up to Reykjavik in northern Iceland. It's within the, well within the Arctic Circle

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Ray

Ray sync: and for a navigator this is a fairly difficult area because in those days flying boats were equipped only with magnetic compasses

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Archival: Aeroplane

Ray v/o: and the closer you get to the north magnetic pole, the more

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Archival: Binocular POV

sluggish your needle becomes and

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Archival: Airman in plane

also you run into

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Archival: Airman in plane

magnetic storms in

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Archival: Navigator on plane

the needle swings round, round and round [laughs] and often of course you're in fairly violent storms that toss you around a fair bit, so it was a fairly difficult place for a young navigator to cut his teeth on.

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Archival: submarine

round and round [laughs] and often of course you're in

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Archival: bombs dropping from plane

fairly

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Archival: bombs dropping from plane

violent storms that toss you around a fair bit, so it was a fairly difficult place for a young navigator to cut his teeth on.

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Photo: Ray with 2 RAAF men in uniform

Interviewer v/o: Working as you were on coastal command how long would you have to fly without a break?

Ray v/o: Well, the longest trip I did was out of Gibraltar. We went down for the

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Photo: Ray on camel

landings in North Africa and the longest trip I did there was 27 hours,

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Ray

Ray sync: the worst problem there, Robin, was that you needed to be over a convoy at dawn because that's when the U-boats were around so that meant that you had to fly out to pick up the convoy by dawn.

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Photo: Ray and airman by plane

Ray v/o: And then you'd fly all day, all night and get back to base at nine o'clock the following night. It was a pretty long time. And I, towards the end I got pretty jittery.

Interviewer v/o: After four pretty intense years of war, how did you cope with coming home?

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Ray

We now know about post-traumatic stress disorder, did it effect you?

Ray sync: It's an area I don't, I'm not very proud of, Robin. I got home and, and I stood outside the front gate and wondered what it was going to be like going inside and, but I went in and, and the first 24 hours it was euphoric.

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Photo: Ray in uniform with child

Ray v/o: But it soon wore off, I don't know why. I, I felt I was not at ease. I hadn't been with, in

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Photo: Mavis with the children on swing

women's company for three or four years, not with small children. I'd give an order to the two children,

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Ray

Ray sync: like I did to my bearer and of course they weren't used to me and who was this strange man? So it wasn't a father son relationship at all.

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Photo: The children on beach

Ray v/o: I used to get actually bored, bored stiff and think when will I be flying next? And

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Ray

Ray sync: was home, and I used to go into the city and walk down Rundle Street and look for somebody in airforce uniform. If I did, I'd invite them into the pub, and stay there drinking beer, and we would talk war stories and,

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Photo: Ray

Ray v/o: I think sort of mood lasted quite some time. And it wasn't really until

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Photo: Ray with his 3 Children

we, we had our third child, Ruth, that I sort of managed to shake off that business and I went back to the detective office and

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Ray

Ray sync: they were very good. The inspector gave me a youngish plain clothes man to work with and said, Ray, work on your own with Ted, because I couldn't work with anybody else,

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Photo: Cricket team including Ray

Ray v/o: but Ted was very good. He sort of jollied me along and with Ruth's, Ruth's arrival and I sort of took to her, I somehow got out of that, that mood and I understand what you're talking about with post-traumatic stress because I've been doing some study on that myself.

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Photo: Men standing by car

interviewer v/o: Now after you'd settled back down you were making quite a mark in the south Australian police force, when you were a

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Photo: Ray standing by car

asked to help set up ASIO, what was your job there?

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Archival: Man walking by building

Ray v/o: I was in charge of a team of investigators

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Archival: Investigators standing by building

and most of them were like me,

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Archival: 2 Men stand by car

ex-servicemen, ex-police cadets and I was their sort of

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Archival: Pan along typewriter

supervisor and they were a first class group because we were keen and enthusiastic,

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Archival: Filing cabinet

and at that time Russia

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Archival: Fingers in filling cabinet

looked like being our next enemy.

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Photo: Group of men.

Interviewer v/o: You left ASIO in 1953

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Photo: Ray with group of men

to head the commonwealth investigation service

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Photo: Ray

which you transformed very successfully

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Photo: Ray with 2 other men.

into the federal police. During the 14 years you were

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Photo: Ray with Mavis and their daughter

in Canberra doing that what were your guiding principles?

Ray v/o: I don't know that I had any

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Ray

Ray sync: deep set organisational credo except that I'd always had this, this belief in the English policing system. The English policing system started on the basis that every able-bodied man in the village did his share as being policeman, and took his turn at being the policeman of the village and he was responsible to the, a little watch committee composed of the greengrocer and the clergyman and the schoolteacher and the farm labourer, there was a watch committee.

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Photo: Group of men

Ray v/o: Now this is quite unlike the continental system. where, where it's the power of the sovereign

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Photo: Group of men

who lays the law down and so the law is imposed from above

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Photo: Ray in group of men

and enforced from above. Whereas in the English original

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Ray

Ray sync: policing system it was the people's own choice, they decided they would do these things, they set the standards and it seemed to me, being one of the common people, I suppose [laughs], if I'd been the king I might have had a different idea but being part of the, the community

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Photo: Ray in saluting in uniform

Ray v/o: I thought that was good and so I tried to form our police force mainly on the English tradition rather than the, rather than the continental system.

Interviewer v/o: You left Canberra to be commissioner of police in New Guinea

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Photo: Ray in uniform

and you'd only been there a couple of years when you were invited to be the new commissioner of police in Queensland. When did you realise just

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Ray

what you were taking on in Queensland?

Ray sync: I think the first day I arrived in Brisbane, got off the plane, was driven into police headquarters in an official car, the driver of the car, a senior constable who'd wangled that particular duty said to me, Commissioner, do you know this is a very corrupt police force, or words something like that? And I thought, what an extraordinary introduction into a police force and, you know, what a reckless statement to make to, to a new person, but he, this was a fellow called Sergeant Ken Hogart , I got to know very well, but he'd, he'd done some homework before I got there and he knew my background and he felt that he could talk frankly to me about the problems of corruption in Queensland. So he alerted me that, at least some members of the Queensland police force thought the force was corrupt.

Interviewer v/o: You had in fact taken over from commissioner

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Photo: Commissioner Bishof

Bishof who'd used some senior police officers, the rat pack to run a complex system of corruption in the police force.

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Archival: Bishof walking to building.

What was the extent of the corruption you faced?

Ray v/o: Well the main

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Ray

Ray sync: exposure of what was going bad in the Queensland police force came out of course at the time of the Fitzgerald inquiry and that in the main was only one, one variety of corruption. It was brothels who were paying off police

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Archival: Brisbane police car.

to keep quiet. SP bookmakers who were being warned of any impending raids. Various illicit activities that were being tolerated.

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Archival: Stripper in club

and we never really got in to some very serious

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Archival: Girl at window

violent crimes that I think

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Ray

Ray sync: now had been inspired by, by the network of corrupt people in Queensland. But, so the Fitzgerald inquiry only, only identified and published perhaps half, if I can use a rough, half of the corruption in Queensland, the rest has never been looked at by anybody.

Interviewer v/o: How did you decide to tackle

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Archival: Ray in uniform shaking hands

this whole situation?

Ray v/o: Well it was difficult because I really had no hard

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Archival: Men sitting in room

evidence of corruption. In order to do this you need to be

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Archival: Sign "Queensland Police Department Headquarters"

DISSOLVE TO:

part of the criminal conspiracy, you need to be

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Archival: Police headquarters

there .I started a little criminal intelligence unit to do a number of things,

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Ray

Ray sync: one was to concentrate on a few target criminals and also to keep a watch on possible bent policemen in the police force by seeing how much money they had, were spending and accruing it, and also to see if we could recruit some of the

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Archival: Brisbane street at night

ray v/o: prostitutes who were involved in the

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Archival: Woman standing by wall

brothels because the prostitutes knew who the policemen that were coming to the brothels to

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Archival: Traffic at night

get paid, and if I could secure enough prostitutes I would be able to charge some policemen.

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Archival: POV entering doorway

we managed to get evidence

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Ray

Ray sync: sufficient for prosecutions against 23 of the Queensland serving police.

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Archival: Police outside "Lounge"

Now I, was well versed in what was needed and I made sure we had a watertight case before they

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Archival: Police outside bottle shop

went to the prosecutor. We lost every case,

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Ray

23 cases we bought before the courts and lost every one.

Interviewer v/o: Why?

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Archival: Lewis, Murphy and Hallaghan, on blue background

DISSOLVE TO:

Ray v/o: the corrupt police were the smart police. and they knew their way around the courts.

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Archival: Lewis on blue BG

DISSOLVE TO:

They were well known to the

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Archival: Murphy on blue BG

DISSOLVE TO:

court

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Archival: Hallaghan on blue BG

officials and

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Ray

Ray sync: were regarded as good fellows, so that there would be - and I was regarded as a Mexican, somebody who came from south of the border and Mexicans never had any worthwhile ideas any rate. So I had this whole Queensland culture opposed to me

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Photo: Ray in uniform

Ray v/o: because I was a Mexican.

Interviewer v/o: Wherever you've been in charge, you've always placed emphasis on the importance of education and

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Archival: University degree

you yourself have taken out a number of university degrees. What did you

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Archival: Pan across University degrees

do about educating the Queensland police?

Ray v/o: I did a, a,

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Ray

Ray sync: a check of the personnel files of the qualifications, education or otherwise, of the members of the force, and I was horrified. I can't now recall the exact percentages but I would think something like 60 per cent if not more of the then serving police,

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Photo: Ray with police and horse

Ray v/o: had left school at primary school level and never got to a secondary school So I went to the director of education in Queensland, and he said, Ray, go softly and quietly on this and we'll introduce a

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Ray

Ray sync: scheme which will gradually raise the standard, educational standards of your police officers. a

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Archival: Joh Bjelke-Peterson

Ray v/o: and the, the police executive immediately when to Joh and without Joh

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Ray

Ray sync: bothering to consult me, he made a public statement that Mr Whitrod's ideas was far-fetched. Queensland did not need its police officers to be Rhodes Scholars. Now the level I was talking about was apprenticeship level for bricklayers

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Archival: Joh Bjelke-Peterson holding paper

Ray v/o: and Joh, Joh said we didn't need that, of course he didn't have it himself.

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Archival: Joh Bjelke-Peterson being interviewed.

and I saw quite recently, Queensland University had offered Joh an

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Ray

Ray sync: honorary doctorate for his assistance in promoting education in Queensland.

Interviewer v/o: Throughout this time

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Archival: Ray's house

had your opponents ever acted against you

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Archival: Ray, in uniform, outside house

in a personal way?

Ray v/o: My little team that

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Archival: Ray, in uniform, outside house

were helping me were attacked through the media as turncoats and

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Ray

Ray sync: traitors to the cause of police. They had a very rough time and so did their families, and Mavis had a very rough time.

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Photo: Mavis and their grandchild

She, she really tried to shield me from this attack. Towards the end, Robin, I'm sorry to tell you, I got

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Ray

Ray sync: personally frightened of my own safety and I used to sleep with a revolver under my pillow, the attacks were so serious and, and I suppose I was getting a bit nervous after seven years

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Archival: Newspaper clipping "The honest cop calls it quits"

Interviewer v/o: Ray, what precipitated your resignation from the Queensland police force?

Ray v/o: Well, the

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Ray

Ray sync: trigger point, I was a bit unhappy because, because I wasn't achieving as much as I thought ... but the trigger point was when I'd, I'd selected a replacement for an assistant commissioner who had retired and this required cabinet approval. And in the past, always in the past, the cabinet had accepted the commissioner's recommendation, so I had sent to cabinet

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Archival: Parliament House

Ray v/o: three names, just expecting the usual acceptance but instead the three names were rejected

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Ray

Ray sync: and an inspector named Terry Lewis was promoted over perhaps 60 men better qualified than him and he was appointed assistant commissioner.

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Archival: Terry Lewis at microphones

Ray v/o: Now Terry Lewis was well-known as one of the rat pack bag men for, for Bishof and so I was astonished.

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Archival: Terry Lewis at interview

And I went to the police

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Archival: Lewis at interview.

minister I said, but

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Ray

Ray sync: you must know that Terry Lewis was a bag man and the minister said, yes, but that was when he was a sergeant. He's now been an inspector for a few years and he wouldn't do anything like that, and I said well I don't agree with you, can I talk to cabinet or to the premier because it's important to me. I've been conducting a anti-corruption program here for seven years, everybody in the police force knows that Lewis is corrupt. Now if he's appointed assistant commissioner, it will nullify all my efforts, and the new minister said I will talk to the premier.

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Archival: Joh Bjelke-Peterson getting out of car

Ray v/o: And about an hour or so later the minister rung me up and said, the premier does not want to see you nor will he allow you to address cabinet.

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Archival: Whitrod entering press conference

So my empire crashed to the ground. So I wrote out my, went to my wife, we talked about it all night, and next morning I sent my resignation to cabinet saying that I wished to be relieved from my commission as a police commissioner.

Interviewer v/o: Ray the Queensland police isn't the only force in Australia or the world to be corrupt. How far do you think corruption is exacerbated

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Ray

by the code of loyalty that develops among serving policemen?

Ray sync: It played a very large part, Robin, when you, particularly when you're a detective and you work in teams of two, you learn to rely completely on your mate.

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Photo: Ray with group of men

Ray v/o: If he's in trouble, you rush immediately to his aid, he comes to your aid. and you don't dob in your mates, and

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Ray

Ray sync: that was my problem in Queensland. I thought there were a large number of honest policemen in Queensland but none, none of them would come forward and tell me about what their mates were doing on the side. It's a very strong bond between policemen that you don't talk, it's almost like a blue veil of secrecy. It's stronger, I think, than Masonic bonds or even the Mafia, for silence.

Interviewer v/o: Despite your experiences

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Photo: Ray and Mavis

in Queensland you've remained a reformer. Since your retirement you've set up a nation-wide

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Photo: Ray at lectern

organisation for cancer victims you've been successful in getting through the UN a victims of crime rights bill. Do you think things can always

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Ray

be improved?

Ray sync: Yes I do. I think we're born into an imperfect world with our responsibility for making it perfect, so I always think, not always think, it's one of my, my, my ideologies,

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Photo: Young Ray

Ray v/o: that no matter how good it is, there is something that can be done to improve it. If there was a creator

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Ray

Ray sync: and my voting is 51 49 that there is one, that the thing he would have done, he or she would have done, was to not make a perfect world because then we would be just like heaven and we'd be a lot of zombies like the angels going around, just a lot of yes men or yes women

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Photo: Ray and 2 others in graduation outfit

Ray v/o: but we had a task to do, so that seemed to me that he's given us this task of making the world perfect.

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Ray

FADE TO BLACK.

Following images run over the credits:
Interviewer
ROBIN HUGHES

Editor
KIM MOODIE

Director of Photography
KEVIN ANDERSON

Sound Recordist
MARK TARPEY

Production Manager
JO ROSE

Sound Post Production
MICHAEL GISSING
DIGITAL CITY STUDIOS

Online Editor
ROEN DAVIS
VISUALEYES

Research
JO ROSE

Transcripts
CLEVERTYPES

Production Liaison
SALLY CREAGH
KAREN SKEA

Business Affairs Manager
SALLY REGAN

With Thanks To
FILM AUSTRALIA FOOTAGE LIBRARY
ABC FOOTAGE LIBRARY
ASIO
SA POLICE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
VICTIMS OF CRIME SUPPORT SERVICE

Produced and Directed by
ROBIN HUGHES

Executive Producer
MARK HAMLYN

Made in association with SBS TV

Ray sync: Now how it's going to be made perfect I don't really know. I only know that in my own little sphere I'll strive to improve it and that means personally but also means socially and world wide.

[Music]

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FADE IN.

Small screen: Archival: Ray , in uniform, filling drawers

I

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Archival: Ray taking charts off the wall.

Production Manager
JO ROSE

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Small screen: Archival: Ray packing drawers

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Photo: Small screen: Ray at lectern.

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Photo: Small screen - Ray.


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Photo: Small screen - Ray, Mavis and dog

FADE TO BLACK.


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FADE IN.

A Film Australia National Interest Program
© MMI

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